ZENITH - Capturing today’s digital natives

Zenith, a watch brand from the LVMH group, has been capturing the attention of a younger and younger audience thanks to smart digital technology and influencer partnerships. Digital Luxury Group’s Genna Meredith reports how.

In 2011, watch industry sales were booming—the industry experienced a 21.2% jump in export sales from June to July, and it was one of only three of the ten largest industries to post growth. By 2012, the average export growth was an impressive 17%, outperforming any other Swiss industrial sector.

Fast-forward to December 2015 and the Swiss watch industry was preparing for its fourth straight year of little to no growth. “Swiss Watch Industry Calls Time on Booming Growth of Prior Years”, reported Bloomberg.

Added to the financial struggles, the traditional watch audience had grown older and the number of potential buyers had decreased, meaning that opportunities for growth had to come from a new pool of people. This younger, digital-savvy audience have higher expectations—expecting brands to be available online and provide a seamless experience.

This was the scenario that luxury Swiss watch brand Zenith, owned by LVMH and best known for its El Primero watch movement, faced and tackled head-on as it approached its biggest moment of the year—Baselworld, in 2016.

With over 200,000 people flocking to the city of Basel, Baselworld is the most important marketplace and trendsetting show for the world’s watch and jewellery industry.

With a reported 80% of global watch sales for the year ahead generated at the fair, the annual exhibition hosts over 1,800 brands and it welcomes aficionados as well as press to see what the industry has to offer.

So, how can a watch brand that is well known to specialised press and collectors appeal to a younger, digital audience? And importantly, how can the brand maximise its investment so that potential clients around the world will also be reached?

To address these challenges, Zenith worked with Digital Luxury Group (DLG), a digital strategy and marketing agency dedicated to luxury brands, in order to help modernise what they were doing and tap into this digital audience.

“We saw great potential to help widen the Zenith audience,” Inès Lazaro, Head of Client Services for DLG explains. “The first step was by communicating using the brand’s values (i.e. manufacture, legends and vintage). Then, by humanising the relationship between brand and audience, and finally by choosing Influencers that share Zenith’s values that were outside of the watch industry and could attract a fresh audience.”

As part of its aim to communicate the brand’s values and connect with this new audience, Zenith teamed up with Uber to offer classic car rides during Baselworld. The Baselworld-goers were also invited to experience a classic barbershop with the famous Milanese barber, Bullfrog. They were treated to a style refresh, shoeshine and shave, right in the heart of the exhibition.

Using DLG’s influencer identification process, the team identified publications and bloggers who aligned with Zenith’s core values and could help promote the partnerships further.

The lead partnership involved renowned tattoo artist Luke Wessman. On top of owning an ‘invite-only’ tattoo studio in Los Angeles, Wessman is passionate about taking the best from the past to forge the future—the perfect mirror image of the Zenith brand identity.

Just as with watchmaking, the art of tattooing is about craftsmanship—creating wonders using your hands. Vincent Steinman, communication and marketing director for Zenith agreed, “When we met Luke, he oozed soul and style—the two things we really wanted to portray with Zenith.”

Of the partnership Wessman said, “Zenith’s craft of watchmaking is second to none, and their rich heritage, tradition, passion and pursuit of excellence are reflected in the legacy of its slogan—‘Legends Are Forever’. When the opportunity arose to work with them, I was proud to unite my brand with theirs.”

Wessman was present at the Zenith booth, indulging in the full barbershop experience and sharing his experience of being at Baselworld for the first time with his fans. His presence also meant that the press could speak to him, offering them an insight into Zenith’s values.

Luke Wessman (l) with Zenith CEO Aldo Magada (r)

Wessman posted live from the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) event where Zenith’s president and CEO, Aldo Magada, along with DGR President Mark Hawwa announced the partnership between Zenith Watches and the DGR. This partnership aims to help in raising both funds and awareness in the battle against prostate cancer. This is an important issue for the millennial luxury generation, with research showing that “88% of UK and US millennials and generation Xers believe brands need to do more good, not just ‘less bad.’”

At the event, Hawwa said that “Zenith is the ideal partner for us, we share common values related to style and leisure, Zenith is a legendary brand.”

To further capitalise on the power of human-to-human communication, DLG reached out to carefully selected influencers such as Cool Hunting and the Copenhagen-based bloggers A New Kind of Love—a couple who boast a following of over 240,000 individuals around the world.

This couple documented their first time at Baselworld through beautifully shot images of themselves styling the watches. Together with their audience, they fit the Zenith aesthetic perfectly—enabling the brand to touch an audience who would not have otherwise been privy to the Baselworld hype.

Social Media Enagagemnt

The engagement from fans cemented how important it is for a brand to communicate news about its products as well as its core beliefs—the passion points that a younger audience can relate to.

DLG also developed a micro-site, an SEA programme and social media strategy. Each digital touch-point emotionally brought to life the key values of the brand, as well as highlighting the new products—an important factor in retaining the traditional watch connoisseurs.

Zenith’s ‘human-first’ content contributed to exceptional results. The posts during Baselworld 2016 reached over 15 times more fans than usual, with 11% of traffic coming from social media channels. In addition, thanks to an efficient targeting strategy, the community size increased by 7.5 times in less than one month.

Together, DLG and Zenith successfully created a digital journey where both product and brand information stood out from the sea of industry messages. Thanks to this value-first approach, a digital word-of-mouth effect was created amongst a new, younger audience.

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